Published on Development Impact

The new short-paper track in the Journal of Development Economics: Guest post by Andrew Foster

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The Journal of Development of Economics is pleased to announce that it now offers authors a short-paper limited-revision track. We understand that the experience of other economics journals with this alternative workflow has been positive and think it may be an especially good fit for some research in our field. We also think it will be attractive to junior authors that would benefit professionally from a more expedited process.

Short papers submitted to the journal will face a rigorous review process and will be expected to meet the high standards of longer papers accepted at the journal. However, given the shorter length and restrictions on the revision process, and with the cooperation of referees, we believe that we can substantially reduce the time between submission and eventual publication and better serve the field by providing a focal point for innovative work that can be succinctly presented and explained. We also intend to do this by expanding the number of papers published per year, and thus address in part the rapid growth in submissions relative to publication that is evident over the last five years in the development field (see particularly McKenzie’s annual review of development journals).

As an innovation that, as far as we know, is not being applied in other journals, we also monitor longer papers that have been through the review process that might be better suited to the short-paper track. Of course, our editors have always had the option of asking that writers pare down reviewed papers to maximize impact or to remove problematic sections.

But we will also give the editors the option of rejecting such a paper and suggesting that it be resubmitted as a short paper. In those cases, we will be able to transfer over the previous referee reports and other correspondence. It remains to be seen whether this will be an effective mechanism for identifying high-quality short papers, but we thought it was worth exploring. If authors are interested in submitting a longer paper and believe that it might be suitable for the shorter category we encourage them to say so in their initial cover letter. We also think this approach may be useful for authors from around the world who may be unfamiliar with the short paper as a possible option for their work.

To facilitate this process and to ensure that our treatment of short papers will develop a consistent process and follow the guidelines on turn-around time, we have brought in a new co-editor who will specialize in short papers. Tom Vogl of UCSD has agreed to take on this role. While correspondence should in general be routed through the journal, we will be able to respond to individual queries and will, over time, develop an FAQ for prospective authors. As with other papers, short papers will first be screened by the editor in chief and then fully managed by the relevant co-editor.

The submission guidelines for the new portal will follow those for AER: Insights. Manuscripts should be at most 6,000 words, with at most 5 exhibits (tables or figures). Online appendices of at most 20 pages are permitted, but manuscripts must be self-contained. Submissions will be desk rejected, rejected after review, or conditionally accepted. Decisions on refereed manuscripts will generally occur within 4-6 weeks of initial submission. Authors will have 4 weeks to revise a conditionally-accepted manuscript, with exceptions for extenuating circumstances. Resubmissions will not be returned to referees.

The mechanics are simple. To submit a short-format manuscript, select "Short Paper" as the article type in the submission portal and then proceed as you would for any other paper.

Andrew Foster, Editor in Chief, Journal of Development Economics

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